Green Your Garden Furniture

Annual buyer’s guide shows sustainable products are widely available

06-23-2010 // NWF staff
FSC-certified bench

When we want to relax and tune in to nature, many of us retreat to the gardens and outdoor spaces around our homes. We choose plants and other habitat elements with wildlife in mind, but are we being as careful with our garden furniture selections?

Tropical timber, prized for its durability and aesthetic value, is used in the vast majority of garden furniture products available in U.S. stores—but not all of it is harvested sustainably. Illegal logging and over-extraction is occurring in at least 70 countries and accounts for approximately half of all traded timber production in tropical forest nations.

“Every year, tens of millions of acres of tropical forests disappear around the globe, threatening wildlife dependent on that habitat, displacing human communities and exacerbating global warming by adding pollution and limiting carbon sequestration,” says Stacy Brown, NWF’s northeast forest climate manager. “Ongoing deforestation contributes about 12 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions—equal to that of the total global transport sector.”

To help consumers interested in making green purchases, National Wildlife Federation has released its fourth annual garden furniture scorecard, a buyer’s guide to products that come from well-managed tropical forests. The scorecard rates retailers and manufacturers on the availability of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified products in their wooden outdoor furniture collections. The FSC logo identifies sustainable wood products that are harvested in a manner that protects water, soil and wildlife habitat, as well as community and indigenous peoples’ interests.

“The scorecard is a clear and essential guide that helps people make Earth-friendly furniture purchases for their garden or backyard,” says Brown. Companies received a rating of up to five stars based on the percentage of their products that are made from sustainably harvested tropical wood. This year’s rankings included more companies than ever rated at four or five stars.

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